Archive for April, 2009

April 9, 2009

Keeping Up Appearances

Contributed by Terry Hemphill, Illustrator Marketing Manger


Until I became assimilated into the language of Illustrator at Adobe, the term “appearance” didn’t mean much to me, despite the fact that I’d used Illustrator for years. The Appearance panel? Nice for basic object info, I guess. Terms like “expand to basic appearance?” Huh? Wouldn’t one “reduce” or “diminish” to basic?

Was I ever missing the boat! It took watching in-house Adobe pros and in-the-know customers who really grasped the power of Appearances and the Appearance panel to wake me up. Now I can’t understand how I ever used Illustrator without the Appearance panel, and in Illustrator CS4, it’s truly one of my favorite features.

I’m going to let the pros on the team give you the real skinny info on Appearances and the Appearance panel in posts to follow, but let me share with you my “a ha!” moment and (hopefully) inspire you to check it out.

The “a ha:” it happened watching Matthew Richmond of the Chopping Block at FITC several years ago, where he was presenting from his bag of Illustrator tricks (he has many) to a packed room. It was his Appearance panel tips that rocked the house. He’s much more lively in person, but he does a great intro to Appearances and Live Effects here, for Illustrator CS3.
The Block has a beautiful new blog with lots of cool posts. Here’s yet another Matthew tip that uses the Appearance panel to let you “design/draw your asterisk off.”


Oh yeah, all this has been in Illustrator for some time. Wait till you see what’s new for the Appearance panel in CS4…

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April 8, 2009

Sometimes my jaw drops…

Contributed by David Macy, Illustrator Sr. Product Manager Manager

… when I see artwork that I haven’t seen before. It may be the skill, the subject matter, or the medium. I especially love when I see artists using a tool or medium in ways that seem to defy common notions of the how it should behave. A beautiful example is multi-disciplinary artist Greg Geisler.
You may have seen his vector style animation work in A Scanner Darkly, but check out some of the Illustrator work in the Art section on – yes, those incredible and sometimes haunting watercolor, pen & ink and pastel style drawings are done in Illustrator. Looking at some of Greg’s paintings, it was no surprise to find out that he shared my love of Francis Bacon.

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April 6, 2009

Weekend Wrap–Random Musings

Contributed by Terry Hemphill, Illustrator Marketing Manager

Spectacular spring weather here in San Francisco and the urge to be outdoors is my excuse for this “Weekly Wrap” being more of a kick off for the new week, but some things, like reading printed material, can be done anywhere: the park, the beach, or the sofa. So even when dissolute, there are still thoughtful items to be gleaned from the venerable, and very portable, mass medium called print.

The much-heralded collapse of the newspaper industry is a a bit disconcerting to me. Yes, I’m old school, and still enjoy the idea of the New York Times and a cup of coffee on a lazy Sunday morning. But despite all the thrashing and gnashing over a dying business, there’s very little put forth in the way of what’s needed to overhaul the system.

Jacek Utko, an astonishingly talented Polish newspaper designer, asks, “Could good design save the newspaper–at least for now?” His approach, and success, suggests that he’s on to something. Check out his presentation from this February’s TED conference:

In the same vein, an article in GOOD magazine provides a fascinating comparison of the changes that took place 200 years ago with the situation today, and gives us a peek at a new revenue model for journalism to replace the failing one we have now.

And while we’re on GOOD, their latest issue, which I did cart with me to the park this weekend, has some wonderful graphics to support the theme of Reinventing Our Wheels, created by the New York design studio Open.


Alas, the cover above, while still designed by Open, is not from issue 15 on transportation, and while I couldn’t find the cover graphic from GOOD’s latest issue, check it out on a newsstand near you. Just updated–GOOD has posted their transportation issue online. The looped and knotted highways would make a great “how-to” for Illustrator. But in the meantime, this tutorial from gives a good warm up for creating more intricate designs. Big thanks to Scott Stowell from Open on the GOOD update.

For a deeper look at some of Open’s work for GOOD, download a PDF (3.1 MB) of their Transparency section from GOOD issue 006.

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April 1, 2009

Finding Illustrator Swatches in Bridge

Contributed by Ian Giblin, Illustrator Team Torch Bearer
If you work extensively with color swatches in Illustrator organizing, finding, and sharing them becomes really important. Many users need to be able to share palettes with a large team and they need to be able to find colors based on their naming conventions, locally, or on a server.

Customers have told us,
• I need to search for specific colors or swatches within palettes (or files) without having to open them.
• I need to make palettes of colors and share them with other Adobe apps and I want to preview them easily.

Enhancements to Bridge and Illustrator make this possible.


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New Tools for Color – Making your designs accessible to all

Contributed by Brenda Sutherland, Illustrator Team Rowing Captain
It’s so easy to take color for granted. Sure, we all have our favorites, and who among us doesn’t spend a ridiculous amount of time choosing the perfect color when the choice is in our hands.

When I was in London last year I had no problem finding my way around thanks to my handy underground and bus maps. All routes beautifully color-coded. Even the paper money in Britian uses multiple colors to help distinguish denominations. Back home, reading the paper, I notice how many info graphics, especially maps, use color to convey everything from falling home prices to earthquake hazard zones. And think about when you go to the grocery store. If you’re like me, you don’t even read the package. I know the brand I like has a yellow box, I know the variety I like has a green stripe, done!

And that’s why I say it’s easy to take color for granted, at least it is when you have full color vision. But did you know that 200 million people globally are colorblind? The numbers are interesting when it comes to gender; about 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women are estimated to have some type of color vision impairment. As a designer, think about what this means. If your design is dependent on color for either conveying information or pure visual impact, wouldn’t you like to be sure that your design accomplished these goals for everyone? How do you do that?

Thanks to a few new features in CS4, it’s easier than you think. We’ve implemented a couple new view modes that preview your art in the same way that a colorblind individual would see it. When used in combination with the new 2-up layout option, I can adjust colors in my regular color view while at the same time, seeing how the changes impact the color blindness view.


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